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Barnes argues way to state championship
Bailey Barnes helped the Golden Eagles capture a state championship, then won the individual honor as top respondent.

McMinnville resident Bailey Barnes has shown his prowess in the courtroom.
As a member of the Tennessee Tech Moot Court Team, Barnes helped the Golden Eagles capture a state championship, then won the individual honor as top respondent.
In the finals, Barnes argued his case inside the Tennessee Supreme Court chambers in front of practicing attorneys serving as judges.
“It was a lot of public speaking. It really teaches you to think on your toes since the judges are allowed to ask you questions,” said Barnes, a former WCHS valedictorian. “Some of the schools we faced have law schools and Tennessee Tech does not, so it’s really quite an accomplishment for us to win.”
Tennessee Tech emerged victorious from a field of 27 teams that included Vanderbilt, Rhodes and Sewanee. It’s the third year in a row Tennessee Tech has reached the finals and second time in three years the university has won.
Barnes is a political science major who is set to graduate Dec. 10. After graduation he plans to attend MTSU to earn a master’s degree in history before attending law school.
Barnes said students spent three to four hours a week in class preparing for the moot court competition and studied all the case law in their own time.
“The four days we were in Nashville, we didn’t go out at all,” said Barnes. “We’d work till 2 or 3 a.m.”
Opening arguments were held in committee rooms at Legislative Plaza. The semifinals were held at the old Supreme Court chambers inside the State Capitol.
The case they were arguing was complicated.
The question was: “Is there a hybrid rights exception to the general rule that the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause requires only rational basis review for neutral and general applicable laws that incidentally burden a particular religion?”
The question stemmed from a fictional incident involving religious rights at school. According to the case framework, a school system was being sued by a parent who wanted his three children to be allowed to eat chocolate every hour. The parent claimed eating chocolate every hour was a religious ceremony.
The school system, in an effort to reduce sweets, would not allow it.
Barnes said his argument centered around whether hybrid rights exist. He successfully argued hybrid rights do not exist.
“We scouted the other teams during the preliminary rounds and saw what they were doing and made some adjustments as we went on,” said Barnes. “In the finals, we blew it out of the water.”
Joining Barnes on the winning moot court team were Gavin Smelcer, Alex Smith, Brenna Edgemon, and Micah Vest. The competition was Nov. 17-20 in Nashville.